Five Things to Do If There are Bed Bugs in Your Apartment Building


“There are bed bugs in my apartment building!” If you hear these words from another tenant in your apartment building, be wary. You may be already sharing your unit with bed bugs, or you will have an infestation yourself sooner or later. Either way, taking the necessary steps is a must to put the problem under control or keep it from striking.

While bed bugs are not known to spread diseases through their bites, living with them can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

This is why no one can blame you for thinking about moving to a different apartment or getting in touch with professional bed bug exterminators when someone in the building has a bed bug infestation.

What To Do If There Are Bed Bugs in Your Apartment

The things you do the minute you believe that your apartment is harboring bed bugs can spell the difference between going back to having a normal life once again and living with an infestation for weeks or months.

The sooner you carry out the necessary steps, the quicker the problem can be dealt with.

Without any more ado, here are the five steps that you should take ASAP.

Obtain Proof of the Infestation

Just because you notice some bite marks on your skin upon waking up in the morning doesn’t necessarily mean that you have bed bugs in your apartment alright.

Many insects can leave bed bug-like bites on your skin. If you have pets, their ticks and fleas may be the ones responsible for those red and itchy spots.

Do not jump to conclusions before you are 100% sure that you are sharing your bed with some bed bugs. What you need to do is gather pieces of evidence by:

  • Taking snapshots of the bites as well as stains on the bedsheets.
  • Checking out cracks, crevices, and seams for the presence of bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Placing actual bed bugs in a small Ziploc bag with rubbing alcohol in it.

Once you have gathered enough evidence, reporting the problem is the next step. No, it’s not a professional bed bug exterminator that you should approach, but your landlord.

Inform the Landlord Without Any Delay

The thought “my apartment has bed bugs — what are my rights?” could be running through your mind over and over again.

Well, you have rights alright. But first, you should establish the presence of bed bugs in your unit.

Most states require the landlords and tenants to take the necessary steps when it comes to a bed bug infestation.

As a tenant, it is your obligation to inform the landlord of a potential bed bug-related problem. Usually, this step needs to be carried out 24 to 48 hours within discovering a potential bed bug infestation.

Going straight to a local bed bug exterminating company is a complete no-no. This is something that the landlord should do. Most landlords have professional exterminators that they trust.

“Bed bugs in the apartment — who pays?”

This is a question that can add to the stress and anxiety of a tenant, especially a budget-conscious one.

Most of the time, it is the landlord who will shoulder the cost of the bed bug extermination. It doesn’t matter if treatment is necessitated by a single unit, multiple units, or the entire building.

It’s a totally different story, however, for a tenant who will be proven responsible for the infestation!

Prepare the Unit for an Inspection

Your tenant will inform you when people from the bed bug exterminating company will pay a visit to do an inspection. This is a vital process because it will establish a few important things:

  • Confirm the presence of bed bugs.
  • Determine which apartments are infested.
  • Identify from which unit the problem had started.

Before the inspectors arrive, there are certain steps that you should take. This will help make it easier for the experts to conduct an inspection and come up with a diagnosis.

It will also prepare your room for the treatment that will be prescribed, making sure that it will work completely and put the bed bug infestation to an end.

Here are some of the things that your landlord will tell you to do, as instructed by the experts:

  • Remove as much clutter in your unit as you possibly can.
  • Seal in garbage bags your shoes, clothes, bedsheets, pillowcases, curtains, drapes, rugs, etc.
  • Vacuum the floor and furniture, and immediately seal the dust bag in a plastic bag.
  • Place your pillows, mattress, and box spring in plastic encasements.

While there are steps that need to be taken beforehand, there are also those that you should refrain from doing. For instance, you should not move any of your things to a new apartment. Doing so will put the new apartment at risk of having a bed bug infestation.

Look for a Different Place

In most states, your landlord is not obliged to provide you and the rest of the tenants with a place to stay in while professional bed bug exterminators are doing their job.

Fortunately, most of the time, you can return to your apartment on the same day and resume a normal everyday life.

This is especially true if the units are small — professional bed bug treatment can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours per room, depending on the size and extent of the bed bug infestation.

In the case of chemical treatment, the pros will come back to exterminate bed bugs a couple of times more, each one three to four weeks apart. In the case of heat treatment, a single session is usually enough.

Just like what was mentioned earlier, you should refrain from bringing your things to where you will stay during the treatment. If you need to bring clothes, bring only a few clean ones.

This is to minimize your risk of bringing bed bugs outside your apartment and causing an infestation elsewhere.

Follow Protocols When Moving Back In

Just because professional bed bug exterminators have performed the necessary treatment and confirmed that the coast is clear doesn’t mean right away that your apartment is going to be bed bug-free forever.

If you and the other tenants are not careful, bed bugs may be reintroduced into the building, causing an infestation all over again.

When moving back in, there are certain steps that you need to take:

  • Washable items should be laundered in hot water for at least 30 minutes.
  • You may also toss them in the dryer for not less than 30 minutes.
  • Use a steam cleaner on items that you cannot place in the washing machine or dryer.
  • Keep your pillows, mattress, and box spring in plastic encasements.
  • Repair cracks or holes in the walls, and mend peeling wallpaper and paint.
  • Arrange for the repair or replacement of damaged or worn away carpet.

If a bed bug infestation happened once, it could happen again. You may also encounter a reinfestation if the professional bed bug exterminators hired by your landlord were incompetent.

Because of this, you should be vigilant to prevent the same problem from wreaking havoc on your life once more.

In Case the Landlord Refuses to Cooperate

Unfortunately, not all landlords on the face of the planet genuinely care about the welfare of their tenants.

If you happen to live in an apartment building that is owned by a landlord from hell, having a bed bug infestation can become more challenging and devastating than it should be.

For instance, in an attempt to avoid spending lots of money on professional bed bug extermination, he or she may put the blame on you or one of the tenants.

A landlord may also leave the job of putting the bed bug infestation under control to the in-house janitorial service using commercially available pesticides and other solutions.

In most states, this is illegal — the bed bug extermination should be performed only by certified and licensed bed bug exterminators.

You may be wondering, “if there are bed bugs in my apartment, can I break lease?” You can break your lease and move out early without any penalty if your landlord refuses to take care of the bed bug problem.

Here are some other steps that you may also take:

  • Withholding your rent.
  • Deducting the cost of professional bed bug extermination from your rent.
  • Suing your landlord for any harm stemming from the infestation.

To be safe, before taking any step aside from the five mentioned above, consult your attorney.

Just Before You Attempt to Deal With Bed Bugs In The Apartment

Bed bugs can wreak havoc on your life in that it can keep you from having a good night’s sleep. The good news is that dealing with an infestation can be as simple as contacting a bed bug exterminating company.

If you live in an apartment building, unfortunately, getting in touch with the pros should not be the very first step to take. What you need to do as soon as you suspect that there is a bed bug infestation in your unit is to report the problem to your landlord right away.

Photo credit: ©canva.com/rosleymajid

Wyatt Welch

Hi, I am Wyatt, and I live in North Carolina. I've been working as a Pest Control Technician and now I am enjoying my retirement. This blog is a perfect outlet for me to share my knowledge in the field and I'd be happy to help if you have any questions.

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